Sometimes, we can do our best to create a beautiful flower or vegetable garden, and no matter how much we water, pluck, and tend to it, things just don’t turn out the way we want. Believe it or not, this is more likely to be due to poor soil than a lack of gardening skills.
The key to any successful garden is starting with healthy soil. When soil has the nutrients it needs, it is then able to support healthy, beautiful plants that are less prone to pests and disease. However, having healthy soil isn’t as simple as buying a few bags of fertilizer. There’s a little more to it than that.
Several key components of healthy soil include:
Good gardening soil should be crumbly and soft. Loam is the best soil to use due to its nice, crumbly texture. If you have clay or sandy soil, however, you can make some improvements in order to make them work for your garden.
The Right pH
Your soil’s pH level can make or break your garden since it will affect the minerals your plants receive. In order to produce healthy plants, your soil needs to be as close to neutral as you can get it. You can assess the pH level of your soil with a simple test and your local county extension office can help with this. Your results will come with recommendations for either increasing or decreasing the acidity of your soil (such as applying lime or sulfur).
Organic matter is simply dead plant or animal material that adds nutrients into your soil as it continues to decompose. Organic matter will help to improve your soil’s texture, it’s ability to aerate, as well as its ability to retain and drain moisture. Adding organic matter is the best way to improve any type of soil and this can be done by applying compost as well as ingredients like coffee grounds, grass clippings, autumn leaves, or aged manure.
Applying OST-Organic Soil Treatment is also a great way to replace nutrients and minerals that have been depleted from your soil without using manmade chemicals.
Every successful garden needs compost which will improve soil structure, provide nutrients for plants, and stimulate beneficial organisms in the soil. Compost can consist of a variety of discarded organic matter, but it’s best to include both brown (high carbon) and green (high nitrogen) materials such as:
- dry leaves
- corn cobs
- sawdust or wood shavings
- coffee grounds
- kitchen scraps
- fresh weeds
Mix your compost at the ratio of at least 3 parts brown to 1 part green matter and keep compost in an aerated container outdoors. Covering your compost to increase heat and turning it every 3-5 days will help to speed up the decompisition process. You can also add EcoGuard-Compost Starter, which can cut composting time by 50% or more.
Gardening doesn’t have to be difficult, so long as you start out with healthy soil, and though achieving this takes a little work, the results will be well worth it!